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Small grants

Thanks to a generous bequest from the Dickinson family we provide small grants to help NHSN members carry out natural history projects.

The Dickinson family has a long association with NHSN and we are very grateful to Elisabeth Pestell who has bequeathed and donated sums of money to NHSN in memory of her father Tony Dickinson. This money has been invested and the income that this generates is used to provide small grants to NHSN members for conservation and research projects.

We are now open for applications: deadline 28 February 2020

Who can apply for a grant?

Anyone who is a member of NHSN.

How to apply for a grant

We try to make this process as easy as possible. You should complete the application form and return it by the deadline.

If you have any questions, please contact NHSN Director Clare Freeman on 0191 208 2790 or email

The deadline for applications is 28 February 2020. Decisions will be made by a grants panel of trustees in mid-April. It can take 6 weeks to decide on an application, and you may be asked for additional information which can make the process longer. Your project should be completed within 15 months of the grant being awarded.

How much money can I apply for?

The Dickinson Memorial Fund usually has around £1-2,000 per year to award in grants. From this, we expect to fund at least 2 or 3 projects. As a result, we rarely provide a grant of more than £1,000.

What can the money be used for?

Projects should aim to protect, conserve or investigate natural history in North East England. Funds can be used to purchase tools, educational resources and equipment, but cannot be used to pay for your own time.

Payment is usually given on an expenses-claim basis. This means that you may need to pay for any costs yourself and claim the money back by providing proof of expenditure.

Examples of projects that have been awarded Dickinson Grants in recent years:

NHSN member, Pauline Gilbertson, working on behalf of Morpeth Area & District Red Squirrels received grant support to provide feeders, food and other equipment used to monitor the vulnerable Red Squirrel population of Gallagher Park, Bedlington.

The Nathusius pipistrelle Project was awarded £750 towards the purchase of a BAT AT100 wide bandwidth ultrasonic transmitter. Nathusius pipistrelle bats have recently been discovered in Northumberland and this project aims to find out more about this rare species by catching them and fitting radio-tracking devices. The ultrasonic transmitter is used to attract the bats down to a level that they can be caught in harp traps.

Philip Hamner was awarded £375 to purchase materials to build and install large nest boxes for Owls, Kestrels and Goldeneye.

Sacha Elliot, working on behalf of Friends of Tanfield Lea, was awarded grant support to purchase vital equipment used to monitor Great Crested Newt populations, and equipment necessary for habitat management.

The North East Beached Birds Survey (NEBBS) was awarded £200 for the preservation and mounting of some beached bird specimens. These are used by NEBBS for educational purposes – to illustrate the birds they find washed up on our beaches and help explain to people about pollution, food, migration and the weather. These specimens are available for use by the Learning Team in the Great North Museum: Hancock.

Anne Stephenson was awarded £1,500 to make 20 letters from the Hancock Correspondence Collection in our Archives available on our website, in order to make them more accessible and highlight the diversity of the collection. This is a culmination of several years work by Anne who has meticulously catalogued and transcribed the correspondence.